The Sneakers of MF DOOM


Daniel Dumile, a.k.a Viktor Vaughn or MF DOOM, possessed everything that makes a rapper legendary. Great voice, impeccable flow, endless rhymes and an undeniable gravitas. From head to toe, DOOM displayed every element of a hip-hop icon. The toes in particular; DOOM had a well-known affinity for sneakers.  After his recent passing, we wanted to look back at some of the acclaimed rapper’s sneaker collaborations.

Staying true to his New York MC roots, Dumile was often spotted rocking the iconic Timberland 6 inch boot. The shoe, emblematic of east coast hip-hop culture, was referenced by DOOM on “Red and Gold” from his debut 1999 album “Operation: Doomsday”; “Clown kid got pounded in with the Timberlands / They left him trembling, he was not remembering:”

DOOM performing in 11' / possan / CC BY 2.0

Though he regularly wore the work boot on stage, sneaker-wise DOOM is best known for his signature Nike Dunk High. This iconic 2007 collaboration with the masked villain is a staple for any SB collector.

Many of the details on this shoe are inspired by DOOM’s quintessential concept album “MM...FOOD.” This includes the sneaker’s most notable aspect: the stunning illustrations on the translucent soles and sock liner.

Image via Won / CC BY-NC 2.0

The overall metallic colour scheme is inspired by DOOM’s signature metal mask. The iconic mask is a fusion between Doctor Doom’s face from Marvel comics and ancient roman gladiator helmets. The Midnight Fog colour way mixes different shades of grey, reflecting the rapper’s sentiment on the song “ABSOLUTELY”: “keep your Nikes on tight, no white.”  

The frontal view showcases the tongue's mask / Image via Nike

Many of the details on the sneaker incorporate the mask, like the metal face logo on the tongue and the metal dubraes spelling “SPR VLN,” an abbreviation for “Super Villain,” a pseudonym the artist regularly used. The font and style of the dubraes are influenced by graffiti which is an aesthetic that prominently features on DOOM’s album art. The embroidered “DOOM” on the side panels is taken from the “MM...FOOD” album cover.

Image via Won / CC BY-NC 2.0

There are other small details on this sneaker that make it so recognisable. For example, the hint of ostrich leather on the toe box, as well as the red laces and reflective piping, add perfect accents to this subtle classic.

Image via Won / CC BY-SA 2.0

In January 2020, close friend of Dumile, Blake Lethem, released some sketches for a second Nike sneaker. This DOOM Dunk II would feature a rubberised tongue, similar to that of a Jordan 6, in the shape of a metal mask Although this sneaker was never made, some design aspects such as the extended tongue and heel tab appeared on the FPAR x Nike SB Dunk High.

The original MF DOOM Dunk encapsulated the mystique and intrigue of the mysterious villain. Every detail references an element of his character. DOOM once commented that one of the reasons he wears the mask is because he wanted the emphasis to be on the music. This sneaker manifests this ideology. Every detail of the shoe incorporates an element of the character that Dumile created through his music. The MF Doom Dunk captures the “the best MC with no chain you ever heard.”

Image via TheArches / CC BY 2.0

Though the Nike Dunk High Pro SB MF DOOM is the sneaker most synonymous with Viktor Vaughn, it is not his only sneaker collaboration. DOOM teamed up with British brand Clarks to put his spin on the iconic Wallabee model.

This shoe has been embedded in hip-hop culture since Wu-Tang Clan were rocking them back in the early 90’s and it has since been immortalized in Ghostface Killah’s track “Wallabee Champ.” DOOM put his twist on this classic sneaker with two iterations in 2014.

In an interview, DOOM stated that the Wallabee had a “classy yet casual look to them.” He was determined not to over complicate this classic model, emphasising that it is still the “original joint.”

Purchasable via StockX

The first signature Wallabee was made of brown leather and used 3M material in the stitching and laces. This sneaker features a repeated mask pattern on the inner lining as well as a mask graphic embossed onto the side. The mask iconography was also used on the inner lining of the boot version of the Wallabee which dropped later that same year.

Image via Clarks

DOOM can actually be seen wearing this sneaker in the video for “BOOKHEAD” from his 2014 JJ DOOM record. It came in a blue and orange colourway, inspired by DOOM’s beloved New York Knicks. Both sneakers came in signature Clarks boxes designed by the villain himself.

Image via Clarks

Whether it is the Nike Dunk or the Clarks Wallabee, DOOM’s collaborations always feel authentic and genuine. The iconic metal mask inspires many of the unique details and colours added to these classic silhouettes. MF DOOM’s sneaker collaborations are rooted in his music, and a commitment to detail and striking aesthetic have made them classics in the sneaker industry.